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Scottish Power remains positive on the eve of 2015

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables is confident that onshore wind developments in Scotland will continue until at least 2020, stating it is the cheapest form of renewable energy and the combination of high wind levels together with a sparse population makes Scotland a near perfect planning environment for these types of projects.

ScottishPower is the largest generator of wind power in the UK and is an important contributor to our electricity supply. Scottish wind turbines generated more than 812,000MWh of electricity in November 2014 and a total of 28 per cent of Scottish electricity was exported to the rest of the UK last year.

Mr Anderson praised the Scottish government for making its approval system both transparent  and progressive, and confirmed ScottishPower has planning permission for a further 500MW of onshore wind.

ScottishPower’s Whitelee site has become somewhat of a tourist destination. The information centre aims to share knowledge with the general public and is just one of the ways in which this energy company tries to engage with communities. The wind energy projects use local services and contractors in an attempt to proactively involve local businesses and create a positive lasting legacy.

ScottishPower will be one to watch in 2015.

Green news

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had released this quarter’s Energy Trends and Quarterly Energy Prices – and renewable energy has done itself justice! The key results show that Renewables’ share of electricity generation was 17.8 per cent in 2014 Q3, an increase of 4.2 percentage points on a year earlier, reflecting increased capacity and generation.

In particular, wind generation grew by 10 per cent from 4.7 TWh in 2013 Q3 to 5.2 TWh in 2014 Q3, due to increased capacity, with wind speeds around the same for the quarter as a whole, despite September being the calmest (and driest) month in the last fourteen years.

The UK as a whole has impressed, with energy consumption levels dropping despite improved economic performance. The average person in the UK is using 10 per cent less electricity than five years ago, in large part because of new energy efficiency standards on electrical appliances and a gradual improvement in building energy efficiency. Improved education which stresses the importance of conserving energy will ensure people use energy responsibly.This can be something as simple as switching the lights off if you’re not in the room, or shutting the window when the heating is on!

Overall, this report shares some really good news and sets the standard for 2015.

 

Wind turbines do NOT affect house prices

Fine Energy identify sites for small and medium scale wind turbines on privately owned land in the UK. One of the most common questions we get asked during the community consultation process is whether the turbines will adversely affect the resale value of properties. New market research in Canada has confirmed that they have no effect on property values of nearby homes, commercial properties or farms.

The study was carried out by the University of Guelph who looked at more than 7,000 homes and farm sales in 11 townships in Ontario, Canada. Researchers looked at sales data over an eight-year period – from 2002 to 2010 – to capture property values before, during and after the wind farm’s development.

During that period, more than 1,000 homes and farms were resold – some multiple times- and in every case, they found wind farms had ‘no statistically significant effect’ on property values.

This research contradicts a study released earlier this year by the London School of Economics (LSE) which found that values of homes within 1.2 miles (1.9km) of large wind farms were being slashed by about 11 per cent.

This news will hopefully help put peoples minds at ease and allow them to focus on the positives that come from the installation of wind turbines, that being the generation of clean, renewable and sustainable energy.

Wind turbine college!

A National College of Wind Energy was announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable. The employer-led National college will train both students and professionals in order to meet the demands of the offshore wind sector, as well as onshore wind developments and marine renewables projects. A specialist educational institution of this type will help the UK close the skills gap and ensure Britain’s economy remains strong for the future.

The college will open in 2016 and will be located near the Siemens £310 million wind turbine factory at the Green Port Hull site. The college will interact with a number of other institutions around the UK, and businesses are being encouraged to take an active role in encouraging young Britons, still in education, to consider a career in the renewable energy sector.

This news is exciting for wind energy site developers such as ourselves. It is essential that the UK invests heavily in technical skills so that economic growth, which is underpinned by technological innovation, a strong manufacturing sector and scientific excellence, is sustained and we are not left lagging behind countries like France and Germany.

RenewableUK has had enough

Eric Pickles has been subjected to criticism recently by Ecotricity’s Dale Vince. Vince decidedly put an end to developing any future wind energy projects in England, claiming Pickles was making the planning process impossible. And it seems Mr Vince is not the only one who has had enough.

RenewableUK, the UK’s leading not for profit renewable energy trade association, has called on the Royal Town Planning Institute to stop the “excessive” interference of Pickles. In an open letter, the trade body has called attention to a number of examples and argued that his actions are bringing onshore wind development in England to a grinding halt. A whopping 88 per cent of the 24 projects reviewed by the Secretary of State have been refused.

They argue decision making should be made by qualified planning professionals and Pickles should not have had the opportunity to extend his recovery powers.

The letter, which is co-signed by companies including EDF, REG, ScottishPower Renewables and EnergieKontor, have expressed concerns over his controlling behaviour. Rather than giving power back to communities, Mr Pickles has further centralised decision making and made a horror show out of wind energy developments in the UK.